Saturday, May 5, 2007

Of cheap publicity

It was with amusement that I read the 'vela special' edition of the local newsie on Apr 13, 2007.

The 'vela' is the annual festival in our local temple. It's a great opp for the locals to socialize, for those far away to re-unite and for the newly-rich to flaunt all their new toys.

Not long ago, our village - called Puthur - was a haven - a place where we actually felt like family. We had elderly people to approach when advice was required, friends to kill time with, and above all, our Goddess who kept us in good shape. Peace.

And then, time changed everything. Except the Goddess.

People went to the 'Gellf'. They built big houses and drove big cars. They stopped studying - why waste time when the oil mine spews cash? They drank expensive booze. They married rich women, who brought in more money. And all this sudden wealth had to be displayed. What better place to do so than at the temple, where everyone was sure to notice?

The latest cheap stunt was the material printed on the newspaper. Probably anticipating that noone would pay for material worth less than the paper it was written on, the proud fools distributed it for free.

The 2-sheet avatar of trash was covered with news about the local 'ungills'. Photographs of the authors - as big as the all-foam-and-no-beer articles themselves, competed for the reader's attention. To be fair, a couple of the articles were indeed scholarly. But for the most part, the paper had stupid rich men talking about the history of our village, the current who's who list, members of the temple committee - all stuffed up somewhere in the mess of carbon. Which was all good for publicity.

Except that they got all their facts wrong.

Anyone who lived the village for some time knew how well the articles were embellished. The boozers determined that their fellow boozers and their families were 'authentic' locals. The rich smugglers who donated more to the temple were the people to be proud of! And several not-so-vain families that had actually lived there for over a hundred years were quietly sidelined.

Hear this - someone donated Rs.35K to the temple for the festival. Another 'Gellfie' saw this and I guess his ego just underwent brain surgery - he ran back home, returned with Rs.55,555, and promptly donated the money.

Sometimes it makes me wonder how far people will go to get some attention. It is a universal truth that everyone wants to be loved and appreciated. But how ? And at what cost ?

I guess that's the problem with having no education. It shows up as a lack of culture and common sense. Noone in the village thought of getting somewhere on merit and earning publicity. All they could do, was to buy some really desperate journos and have them print utter nonsense. They even made God an instrument for their vanity ! How cheap is that ?!

Oh, and before I sign-off, here is another piece of trivia. The locally unemployed men - which includes most of the local men - are the largest supporters of the breweries in Kerala. No matter what the occassion, everyone boozes. People can be born or dead, married or divorced - let the booze flow, yeah !

The icing on the cake was when my grandfather expired a few years ago. As per our traditions, there is a ceremony on the 16th day of death, which helps the departed soul rest in peace. All the belongings of the deceased are disposed of, and it is a very sorrowful event. The catch is, it needs a 3rd-party to be present, someone who is not related to the deceased. We approached an elderly local, around 60 yrs old. He consented, and on the eve of the ceremony, he sent home a piece of paper - it simply said '12 bottles of chilled beer'.

5 comments:

You know me said...

People Yearn,
People Learn,
People earn,
This is ur path..

People booze,
People provide booze,
People earn,
This is their path..

I dont see any differnce between these two. If the majority of the people in this world says, boozing is the way to be, won't it become the 'thing' to do ?

Morality of person or society is immoral.
Foul is fair and fair is foul !

Anonymous said...

@you know me : Thank you for your visit. I think I have a fair idea who you are.

I am surprised that you know the different paths, but have no idea of the difference itself. If you're saying that learning and boozing are two equally good ways to lead a life, I'm sorry to disagree.

Pinne - if the majority says something, it need not necessarily be true. That's why God gave each person an individual dose of common sense. If the majority of the world said you were an ass, would you agree ?

Stayinpositive

Anonymous said...

:)) "You are an ass". Now, what is the meaning of this ? you look like an ass or you think like an ass. First case, not possible, because an ass is physically different from a human being.

then probably second case.You think like an ass. I may or may not know how I think, but Definitely I dont know how an ass thinks... right?

So, People or the so called society ( read majority )has construed upon a phrase like " you are an ass" and ppl just use it without knowing what they say..

now dear A, pls just see the above logically and not emotionally.
Now, you used that phrase since you have heard many using it...am i right ?

So who is the real ass here ? ;)

(only pun intended !)

Rinchen said...

Coming back to the original topic of The Booze, its sad to say that Sikkim is also a major alcoholic state, right next to Kerala. Every town or village or anything resembling an iota of human settlement has an alcohol shop or a 'gaddi' where booze is available. People buying booze is a normal sight here as say, shopping ration for your house.

To boot it all, we have two major distilleries producing what they claim to be 'the finest alcohol in the country'. The border police have a gala time confiscating smuggled bottles & probably draining the evidence as a part of their duty.

Here also, marriage, death or birth cannot be celebrated without alcohol. Beer, brandy, whiskey & rum flow in surplus during these occasions and if you dont serve these, your event is doomed to be labelled a failure. Thats how it is.

Picnics under the glaring sun, usually near the river are incomplete without someone getting so drunk they have to fight it out or creating a big scene. Its true - happens every time without fail.

Local hotels serving fast food will have seedy bars which cater to a large influx of people polishing off their glassful of alcohol in a blink of an eye before departing for their business.

You have to see it to believe it. I myself have been observing this for the past 4 years or so. Maybe the governments should be advertising this as one of the major tourist attractions for the states instead of using flowery, scenic stills. Who knows, both states may embrace each other as long lost sisters.

Nokomis said...

Great work.